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Technology for Studying Distracted Driving

Texting and Distracted Driving

At AutoAccident.com, we have noticed a significant increase in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted driving.  We all know that unfortunately, texting and driving has been adopted as an acceptable practice by large portions of society, no longer just young people.  The dangerous activity has become more common among nearly every age group within the United States.  One only needs to look around when stopped at a red light to see how many of our fellow motorists are looking down at what is presumed to be a mobile phone. If the device browsing were limited to red lights and stopped traffic, that would be one thing, but often it is not.  It is estimated by public watchdog agencies that at any particular moment, more than 650,000 drivers are texting while driving.

Texting and Driving – Why so Dangerous?

Some people like to argue that texting while driving is no more dangerous than any other activity that distracts the driver to some extent, such as eating or talking with passengers, but that is simply not true.  Eating and talking with a passenger are activities that take away limited faculties from your driving ability.  Texting while driving, however, requires that you:

  • Take your eyes off the road so that you can view the phone; and
  • Take your hands off the steering wheel to manipulate the phone’s screen; and
  • Take your mind off of focusing on driving to process the information you receive from the phone.

Loss of those three faculties is a deadly triad and what makes texting and driving such a dangerous activity.

Technology Aimed at Studying Distracted Driving

You may think looking down and texting a reply of only a single word would not present much of a danger.  But you would be wrong.  

Teen safety advocates have taken driving simulators across the country to demonstrate the fact that any texting while driving can cause accidents.  One example is that of a 17-year-old who looked down to read the text message “burger or pizza?” and in the few seconds it took to look down, see the message, and begin to reply, he swerved off the roadway.  The teen looked up in time to slam his brakes in response to a red light.  Fortunately, this activity took place during a simulation activity at a Minnesota Teen Safe Driving Summit, and no one was injured.  We can hope that a valuable lesson was learned.

There is an online interactive video game, “Distraction Dodger,” that puts players in the driver’s seat of a pizza delivery van. The objective is to build a successful pizza business. In order to do that, players use a smartphone to utilize social media and GPS at the same time, steering clear of obstacles and traffic tickets.  There are also opportunities to do damage to property and people.  The game then offers feedback to the players about their performance while driving, including their level of distraction.  The game can be found here: http://www.its.umn.edu/DistractionDodger/.

Disturbing Statistics on Distracted Driving

Unfortunately, situations like that involving the 17-year-old referenced above do not just happen during simulation exercises but also in real life on the roads.  It is estimated that more than 25% of the over 2.5 million car crashes each year are caused by distracted driving. Further, 78% of distracted driving accidents involve texting. More education is necessary to curb this deadly epidemic.

Watch the YouTube Video. There is no shortage of sad videos depicting the dangers of distracted driving.  Here is one put out by AT&T:

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Photo Attribution: https://pixabay.com/photos/people-ride-driving-car-vehicle-2599458/

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